Digital transformation helps two local authorities collect millions more in council tax

Vale of the White Horse District Council and South Oxfordshire District Council have partnered with Capita to deliver enhanced revenue collections through new digital initiatives, including a drive to promote direct debit payments for council tax, electronic billing and a new online portal to manage bills.

As a result of increased use of digital channels, more than 80% of residents now use direct debit payments, reducing the risk of them falling into arrears as well as helping the councils to save money, streamline their back-office functions and allowing staff to focus on more complex issues.

More than 22,000 people are now using the electronic billing system which has been transformed through the partnership.

The digital programmes have contributed towards increased collection, alongside year on year increases in collectable debit.

Vale of White Horse collected £7.4 million extra in council tax in 2016 compared with 2014,while South Oxfordshire collected an additional £6.8 million over the same period. Use of enhanced digital initiatives together with tenacious enforcement action has resulted in £1.6million arrears being collected.

Cllr Matthew Barber, Leader of Vale of White Horse District Council, said:

"With increasing numbers paying by direct debit, and the growing popularity of online billing, we are seeing fewer people fall into arrears on their council tax payments which is really good news. By ensuring people pay their bills on time it protects the public purse and means more money is available to support our vital services."

Cllr Jane Murphy, Deputy Leader of South Oxfordshire District Council, said:

“We want to do all we can to help our residents stay on top of their council tax payments, and offering them more ways to manage and pay their bills online is having a clear impact."

Kate Fitzsimons (Five Council's partnership director), Capita local public services, added:

“Online revenue services are becoming increasingly effective ways for district councils to encourage payments, protect vulnerable residents from falling behind on payments, and recouping as much funding for frontline services as possible. We have seen a very encouraging take-up of these services for Vale of White Horse and South Oxfordshire and will continue to encourage greater use of our online portals and management systems.”

The digital transformation of revenues collection is part of Capita’s Five Council’s partnership with Vale of White Horse, South Oxfordshire, Hart and Mendip District Council's and Havant Borough Council. The remaining three councils are due to launch their digital transformation programmes later this year.

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